With the release of 2017’s full-length debut Phase, the Aussie quartet Midlife — multi-instrumentalists Jim Rindfleish, Adam Halliwell, Kevin McDowell and Tom Shanahan — exploded into the national and international scene. Phase was released to critical acclaim from Resident AdvisorResident Advisor, Uncut, The Guardian and airplay from BBC Radio 6 — and the album helped the band garner several award nominations including Best Album at the 2018 Worldwide FM Awards, Best Independent Jazz Album at the 2018 AIR Awards and Best Electronic Award nomination and win at the The Age Music Victoria Awards.
Building upon a rapidly growing profile, the members of the Midlife have opened for the likes of Stereolab, JOVM mainstays King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and Harvey Sutherland. Their first national headlining tour was sold out, and the immediately followed up with a ten-date UK and European tour, which was culminated with a homecoming set at Meredith Music Festival.
The rising Aussie act’s highly-anticipated sophomore album Automatic is slated for a September 18, 2020 release through Heavenly Recordings and the album reportedly is step-change from their debut with the material being much more disciplined, directional and more danceable but while continuing their unerring knack to let a track luxuriate and stretch out without ever being self-indulgent. “The recorded songs kind of become the new reference point for playing the songs live,” Midlife’s Kevin McDowell says. ““They both have different outcomes and we make our decisions for each based on that, but they’re symbiotic and they both influence each other. It’s usually a fairly natural flow from live to recorded back to live.”
“Vapour,” Automatic’s second and latest single is centered around a shimmering, cosmic groove featuring glistening synth arpeggios, a sinuous bass line, a fluttering and expressive flute solo, shuffling four-on-the-floor, a euphoria-inducing hook and McDowell’s plaintive falsetto. While sonically the song brings Fear of Music and Remain in Light-era Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club and DBFC to mind, it conjures memories of carefree dance floors of pre-COVID quarantines, lockdowns and isolation. “Vapour is a dance mantra with enough weight to blow the cobwebs off your tired mind and snap you out of your endless feed scrolling rituals,” the members of Midlife say of the song.
With the release of 2014’s debut EP Melodies for the Contemporary Mind, which led to them opening for Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier — and their full-length debut, 2018’s Soft Years, the act started to receive quite a bit of attention from the Norwegian press. Adding to a growing profile, the act played several showcases in their native Norway and they opened for The Brian Jonestown Massacre. They ended a big 2018 with the the 12-inch effort Reworked, which featured remixes from Lindstrøm & Prins Thomas, Young Dreams and Serena Maneesh.
The members of the rising Norwegian indie act spent last year writing and recording their recently released Emil Nikolaisen-produced sophomore album Eternal Fidelity. The album highlights a band that has grown more confident while crafting material that’s nostalgic yet modern, centered around big chords and sentimental melodies. “Sometimes I try very hard to hold on to something but it just feels like it’s slipping through my fingers. Ideals, dreams, identities or friendships are all things that live so strongly and easily when we’re young but often seem to lose footing as we grow older,” the band’s Eirik Asker Pettersen says of the album’s overall vibe and themes. “Convictions that seem so solid can suddenly dissolve and become unresolved issues. I don’t think we’re too good at dealing with that. Mostly, Eternal Fidelity is about those feelings. It’s about trying to hold on, let go and make sense of it all. It’s about clinging to what’s important even though it might not be easy all the time.”
Eternal Fidelity‘s latest single is the woozy “You Can Have Everything.” Centered around shimming and arpeggiated blocks of keys, boom bap-like drums, fuzzy power chords and an rousingly anthemic hook, the song manages to a woozy and achingly nostalgic song that evokes the rapid passing of time, as well as the constantly changing priorities and responsibilities of adult life. Life changes you after all; it does that very well.
I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the rapidly rising and acclaimed Halifax, UK-based act The Orielles over the past couple of years. Founded by siblings Sidonie B. Hand-Halford (drums), Esmé Dee Hand-Halford (vocals, bass) and their best friend Henry Carlyle Wade (guitar, vocals), the JOVM mainstays built up a great deal of buzz, when Heavenly Recordings‘ head Jeff Barrett signed the band after catching them open for labelmates The Parrots in late 2016.
2017’s critically applauded, full-length debut Silver Dollar Moment found the band establishing a genre-defying sound that meshed elements of psych rock, pop and disco centered around surrealistic observations of everyday life. After the release of Silver Dollar Moment, the band’s founding trio recruited Alex Stephens (keys) as a full-time member of the band, expanding the band into a quartet. And with their newest member, they went into the studio to record material that included “Bobbi’s Second World” and a cover/rework of Peggy Gou’s “It Makes You Forget (itgehane).” Those two singles saw the band’s sound increasingly (and playfully) leaning towards Speaking in Tongues-era Talking Heads, ESG and the like, while featuring rock-based instrumentation.
Released earlier this year, The Orielles’ sophomore album Disco Volador continues the band’s ongoing collaboration with producer Marta Salogni – and the album’s material finds the newly constituted quartet pushing their sound towards its outer limits. The end result is that the rapidly rising Halifax-based JOVM mainstays have sonically become astral travelers of sorts, creating mind-bending, trippy and progressive material that features elements of samba, ‘70s disco, boogie funk, 80s New Wave, dance floor grooves and ‘90s acid house. The material also draws from the work of Italian film score composers Sandro Brugnolini and Piero Umiliami, as well as contemporary acts like Khruangbin and Altin Gun. “All the influences we had when writing this record were present when we recorded it, so we completely understood what we wanted this album to feel like and could bring that to fruition,” the band’s Sidonie B. Hand-Halford says in press notes.
Deriving its name from a literal interpretation from Spanish that means flying disc, the band’s Esme Dee Halford says, “ . . . everyone experiences things differently. Disco Volador could be a frisbee, a UFO, an alien nightclub or how you feel when you fly; what happens when to your body physically or that euphoric buzz from a great party. But it’s an album of escape; if I went to space, I might not come back.”
The album also manages to capture the British indie quartet riding high off the success of their critically applauded debut, which included a lengthy and successful summer tour with festival stops Green Man and bluedot. Two official singles have been released off the album so far: the expansive, hook-driven and genre-defying “Come Down On Jupiter,” which features a slow-burning and brooding intro, before quickly morphing into a bit of breakneck guitar pop before ending with a psychedelic freakout – and “Space Samba (Disco Volador Theme),” a shimmering dance floor friendly boogie woogie with an lysergic air. And interestingly enough, the album’s first two singles are perfect examples of how versatile and dexterous the JOVM mainstays are – they’re pulling from a wild and eclectic array of sources, like a bunch of mad, crate-digging audiophiles and meshing them into something familiar yet completely novel.
The members of The Orielles are about to embark on their first North American tour. And as you may recall, the tour will include a handful of sets at the second annual New Colossus Festival. Unfortunately, SXSW has been cancelled because of COVID 19 – but as of this writing, the band’s West Coast dates are still happening. You can check out those tour dates below.
For JOVM’s latest Q&A, I contacted the members of the British JOVM mainstay act. We discuss Halifax’s local sites of note, their impressive and expansive sophomore album, their cover/rework of Peggy Gou’s “It Makes You Forget (itgehane),” the gorgeous and cinematic video for “Come Down on Jupiter,” their upcoming Stateside debut and New Festival Colossus Festival sets and more. Check it out, below.
3/11/2020-3/15/2020 – New York, NY – New Colossus Festival
3/24/2020 – Los Angeles CA – Moroccan Lounge
3/25/2020 – San Francisco CA – Popscene at Rickshaw Stop
3/27/2020– Boise ID – Treefort Music Festival
3/28/2020 – Portland OR – Bunk Bar
3/29/2020 – Seattle WA – Vera Project
WRH: If I’m traveling to Halifax and Northern England in general, what should I see and do that would give me a taste of local life? Why?
The Orielles: We have all grown up listening to music and trawling through our parents record collections definitely helped influence our love and passion for music. We started playing music pretty much by chance. When we met each other, only Henry could actually play an instrument, but we decided to meet up and jam together the following day regardless. After that we realised our passion for playing music together was huge and we didn’t want to do anything else.
WRH: How would you describe your sound to someone completely unfamiliar to you?
The Orielles: We like to describe our sound as post-punk funk.
WRH: Before you went into the studio to your latest album Disco Volador, the band added keyboardist Alex Stephens. Has the addition of Stephens changed your creative process at all? And if so, how?
The Orielles: He helped to develop our sound and his expanded knowledge on chords and harmony really worked well with our vision of what we wanted this record to be. The creative process stayed the same, we all still write together, and the recording process has always been very collective and shared. We never like it to be rigid in terms of what we play.
WRH: Sadly, it doesn’t appear on the new album, but I love your cover/rework of Peggy Gou’s “It Makes You Forget (itgehane).” How did that come about?
The Orielles: Thanks! We wanted to cover a song for a B-side and thought it’d be fun to rework something that wasn’t the genre of music that we make already.
We also love that song and listen to a lot of dance and electronic music so had the idea to try add our own personality to the cover.
WRH: Two of my favorite songs on the album are album opener “Come Down on Jupiter” and album closer “Space Samba (Disco Volador Theme).” Can you tell me a bit about what they’re about and what influenced them?
The Orielles: “Jupiter” is about the idea of fate and being controlled by a potential higher force from outer space. “Space Samba” is a similar idea but more about boogie and having a disco in space!
WRH: I love Rose Hendry’s cinematic and hallucinogenic video treatment for “Come Down on Jupiter.” How did that collaboration come about? Can you talk a bit about how the treatment came about?
The Orielles: We met Rose through a recommendation and as soon as we read her treatment we were in love with her creativity and her ability to be able to understand the lyrics and the ideas of the song on a deeper level.
We think she’s done a really great job of it and are very proud.
WRH: With the release of your debut, 2017’s Silver Dollar Moment, the band went from being one of the most exciting, emerging bands in Northern England to becoming an international blogosphere sensation, playing some of the biggest festivals of the UK touring circuit. How does it feel to be in the middle of that whirlwind of attention and activity?
The Orielles: It’s really surreal! We definitely didn’t expect for our music to be so well received and for that we’re eternally grateful.
WRH: From what I understand, as you were touring to support Silver Dollar Moment, the members of the band wound up absorbing a wider and more eclectic array of music and sounds – in particular the film scores of Sandro Brugnolini and Piero Umilani, as well as the work of Khruangbin and Altin Gun (who I really dig, by the way). And sonically, the album does manage to reflect getting into a wider variety of things, throwing them into a big old pot and mixing them into something that’s sort of recognizable and sort of alien. So as a result, the material on Disco Volador seems like a bold and self-assured expansion of your sound. Was this intentional? And how much did Altin Gun influence the overall sound and aesthetic?
The Orielles: I guess it was sorta intentional. We don’t really listen to a lot of western music and prefer exploring other styles and eras. I think just expanding our musical palette meant that this progression came naturally.
We have been listening to Altin Gun for a while now after first seeing them play in Utrecht. We love the way that they can make traditional Turkish folk songs very danceable and fun and wanted to replicate that idea with guitar music.
WRH: There are brief hints at 80s New Wave – there’s a brief 30 second or so sequence on “Rapid I” that reminds me of Stop Making Sense-era Talking Heads before closing out with a house music-influenced freakout coda. How much did house music and New Wave influence the material?
The Orielles: Those genres inspire us a lot. We feel that they are often a lot more interesting than straight up guitar indie etc. We also really wanted to have a go at creating guitar music that people can have a boogie to.
WRH: Disco Volador finds the band returning to the same studio you recorded Silver Dollar Moment and continuing an ongoing collaboration with Marta Salogni. How has it been to work with her?
The Orielles: Working with Marta is incredible! She’s such a great energy and has a really special and inspiring knowledge of musical production. She’s also a great storyteller and really hilarious!
WRH: You’re about to embark on a handful of sets at this year’s New Colossus Festival here in NYC, before heading down to Austin for SXSW. If I’m not mistaken, these sets will be your first Stateside shows. Are you excited? Nervous? What should Stateside audiences expect from your live show?
The Orielles: That’s right! It’ll be our first time playing there. We’re very excited! We are hugely inspired by the NYC late 70s/80s art and music scene and so playing out there will feel special to us.
WRH: Is there anything you’re looking forward to on your first Stateside tour?
The Orielles: We’re looking forward to living up to our collective nickname and being proper ‘thrift shop cowboys’. Also excited for hopefully a bit of Vitamin D in California lol.
WRH: Provided that you’ll have the chance to do so: Is there anyone you’re looking forward to catching at New Colossus?
The Fredrikstad, Norway-based indie pop act Remington Super 60 — currently founding member, primary songwriter and producer Christoffer Schou, Elisabeth Thorsen and longtime collaborator Magnus Abelsen — can trace its origins back to 1998 when the band’s founder started the project as a Casio synth pop band. Throughout the band’s 20 plus year history, its sound has bounced back and forth between Casio synth pop and 60s-inspired bubblegum pop drawing from Burt Bacharach, Brian Wilson, The Velvet Underground, Stereolab, The High Llamas, Cornelius, Yo La Tengo, Eggstone over the course of a handful of albums, EPs and appearances on compilations released through a number of labels across the world.
The band’s latest EP, the simply titled New EP was released last year through Christoffer Schou’s Cafe Superstar Recordings. The EP continues to showcase the band’s hook-driven take on pop. Interestingly, the EP’s latest single is the dreamy “I Don’t Want to Wait.” Centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, a sinuous bass line, Elisabeth Thorsen’s achingly plaintive vocals and an infectious hook, the Norwegian trio’s latest single may remind the listener of JOVM mainstays Still Corners, as well as Belle and Sebastian — but with a breezy yet autumnal wistfulness.
Slated for release later this year through Wallflower Records, El Lago’s forthcoming sophomore effort Pyramid reportedly finds the band’s sound and approach evolving in new direction as they increasingly incorporated elements of post-punk and New Wave into the dream pop and shoegazer-like sound that won them attention, essentially adding a darker element to their sound. Interestingly, Pyramid‘s latest single “Endless” is centered by the prerequisite layers of fuzzy and distorted guitars and ethereal vocals of shoegaze within an expansive song structure — but with a muscular and forceful insistence.
Largely inspired by the likes of My Bloody Valentine, Lush, Cocteau Twins, Stereolab and a collection of contemporary shoe gazers, the Brooklyn-based shoegazer act 4Vesta have committed themselves to developing a swirling, mind-bending wall of sound — with a modern touch.
Interestingly, the slow-burning”Evening Star,” the latest single off the band’s debut EP Light & Chemicals. which was recorded, mixed and mastered at the band’s own studio finds the up-and-coming Brooklyn-based act striving to capture and modernize the one of My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless by adding layers upon layers of heavily pedal effected, pitch bending guitars with a subtly motorik-like groove, a soaring hook and ethereal vocals submerged into the trippy yet gorgeous mix.
The Norwegian pop act’s latest single, “The Highway Again” is centered around shimmering and arpeggiated keys, a sinuous and propulsive bass line and some gorgeous harmonizing — and while bearing an uncanny resemblance to Belle & Sebastian, the track reveals a deliberate attention to craft paired with a heartfelt earnestness.
Initially formed back in 2010 as a solo recording project of its founding member, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Nicholas Wood, the British shoegazer act The KVB stated off with a number of limited cassette and vinyl releases that included “The Black Sun,” which was released through FLA Records and the Into the Night EP, which was released through Downwards Records. Vocalist, keyboardist and visual artist Kay Day joined Wood the following year, and the newly constituted duo released their full-length debut Always Then through Clan Destine Records.
2013 was a busy year for the duo, as that year saw the release of their sophomore effort, Immaterial Visions, which was released through Cititrax that February. Wood and Day followed that up with a remix EP featuring contributions from Regis and Silent Servant that May — and a reissue of 2011’s limited edition cassette release Minus One through The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Anton Newcombe’s label, A Recordings.
The following year, Wood and Day went to Newcombe’s Berlin studio to track what would eventually become the Out of Body EP, which A Records released later that year. Interestingly, those sessions marked a couple of firsts for the duo — the first time that they worked outside of their home studio and the first time that they worked with Joe Dilworth, a dummer known for his work with Stereolab and Cavern of Anti-Matter. The more experimental material they recorded the year, would up comprising 2015’s Mirror Being, which was released through Invada Records.
2016’s Of Desire found the duo’s sound moving in a more experimental, electronic-leaning direction, as they recorded with vintage synths from Invada Records head and Portishead and Beak> mastermind Geoff Barrow’s collection. Continuing at a busy pace, the duo’s Fixation/White Walls EP was release in 2017 and they released a re-masted, fifth anniversary edition of Always Then. Interestingly, last year’s Only Now Forever finds the duo returning to their DIY roots, with the duo recording in their Berlin apartment over the course of 2017.
The album’s atmospheric, “Violet Noon” will further cement the duo’s reputation for pairing reverb-drenched shoegaze, 60s pop inspired boy-girl harmonies and minimalist electronic production — but within a swooning and achingly hazy dream-like song. “Influenced by Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra, ‘Violet Noon’ is a dark love song set against the backdrop of the apocalypse. While the world falls apart, all you can think of is the person you want to spend those last moments with,” The KVB say of the song and its accompanying video. “We shot the video last October, on the last unseasonably warm day of the year on the Jurassic coast in Dorset on the south coast of England. For us, the dreaminess of the video perfectly reflects the otherworldliness of this song, it feels like a hazy memory, timeless and romantic.”
Richard Swift was a singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist (best known as a guitarist) producer, and owner of National Freedom Studio, who was largely considered a musician’s musician as he quietly built up an acclaimed career as a member of The Shins, The Black Keys and The Arcs; Swift also developed a reputation as a go-to collaborator and producer, who worked with Nathaniel Rateliff and the Nightsweats, The Pretenders, Kevin Morby, Sharon Van Etten, Valerie June, Damien Jurado, David Bazan, Foxygen, Jessie Baylin, Lonnie Holley, The Mynabirds, Wake Owl, Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier, Gardens & Villa, Cayucas, Guster, Lucius and others. He was also a solo artist, who had released seven full-length albums through Secretly Canadian Records during his life — with his posthumously released eighth album The Hex being released earlier this year.
Back in June, Pitchfork reported that Swift had been hospitalized in Tacoma, WA, recovering from a then-undisclosed life threatening condition and that a GoFundMe had been set up to help cover his medical expenses. Sadly, this isn’t surprising as musicians work as independent contractors, who have to pay the bills you need to get by, pay for studio time, and pay for medical expenses and insurance out of pocket. If you’re a struggling working musician, you make the bulk of your living from touring or from being a session musician — and if you’re too sick to tour or get to the studio, it makes things increasingly difficult. A few weeks later, Swift died and about a week after his death, his family released a statement confirming that he had suffered from alcohol addition throughout his life, and that his death was ultimately caused by complications from hepatitis, as well as liver and kidney distress.
Understandably for those within the larger music community, who worked with him, Swift’s death was devastating. As Luicus’ Jess Wolfe recalls in press notes, “We were on tour in Europe when we lost Richard. We didn’t get to say goodbye face to face. We didn’t get to go to the memorial service. I didn’t get a chance to hear his voice. I only talked to him while he slept, hoping somehow, in his dreams, he was hearing us. We sang to him. We sang to him and it was the worst and best gift we’d ever received. Somehow, pouring out something for someone who has done so much for your musical life, is the only way to cope. This loss really messed us up, as I know it did all of us in the musical community, and we felt the need, the urgency, to make sure to do something about that.”
What initially started off as a small way that the members of the acclaimed Los Angeles-based act Lucius could personally and actively bring awareness to the impact of drug and alcohol addiction within the music community has grown into a much larger concept that they’ve dubbed THE FUG YEP SOUNDATION. Derived from a phrase that Swift coined, the idea is a 7″ record series with each release featuring 2 songs by many of Swift’s closest friends and collaborators. All artist proceeds and profits from the 7″ record series will give financial aid to the Swift family, as well as MusiCares, the charitable wing of the Recording Academy, who had Swift with many of his medical bills — and Music Support UK, who do similar work for British musicians.
“Richard would have probably hated this attention,” Wolfe continued. “But we all wanted to do more for him, we all wanted to be a part of a better way, to be helpful. I think we can all agree, the best way we can do this moving forward is awareness. What a gift that we’re able to offer what we love in honor of those we love. What better way to feature his art, and his imprint on all of us, then to share it with you.” Pure Bathing Culture’s Sarah Versprille adds “Each over features Swift’s original artwork. He was a prolific and persistent visual artist. He made work all the time and his studio was just as much a place for creating visual art as it was for making music. Shealynn (Richard’s wife) has helped us curate a collection of his pieces for each cover of this series that provide a window into this side of his genius, humor and creativity.”
The first release of the series is slated for a December 7, 2018 release through Mom + Pop Music and will feature two singles written and recorded by Lucius at Swift’s National Freedom Studios last April — the A-side “Christmas Time Is Here” and the B-side “Keep Me Hanging On.” The A-side single is a atmospheric rendition of “Christmas Time Is Here” that sounds as though it could have been released sometime between 1956 – 1965 as it pairs a lush arrangement of shimmering keys, reverb-heavy guitars and gently padded drumming paired with Wolfe and Laessig’s stunningly gorgeous harmonizing. While being a holiday staple, the Lucius version possess a weary heartache — the sort that comes with the passing of time and the gnawing reminders that loved ones aren’t around to celebrate another holiday, and the passing of another year.
Initially formed back in 2015 in Thessaloniki, Greece as a duo featuring founding member and creative mastermind Jimmy Polioudis, a.k.a. Zimmy Lips (guitar, vocals) and Konstantinos Iosifidis, a.k.a. Lostinthe (drums, vocals), Vagina Lips released a self-titled cassette, which they followed up with a 5 song mini-album Youth inChaos, which was released through MO.MI Records. Interestingly around the same time, Polioudis appeared on a popular Greek TV show — and coupled with the project’s unique name, Polioudis along with Vagina Lips became much more widely known in Greece; however, after Konstantinos’ departure in 2016, Vagina Lips has become a solo project — with Konstantinos producing the band’s Athanasia, an album that was listed on several Greek blogs as one of the best albums of that year.
Interestingly, since the release of Athanasia Polioudis has been remarkably prolific releasing two EPs, a mini album and three full-length albums — 2016’s Decadent Life EP, 2017’s Elixir, the Vernorexia mini album, and Of Our Lives. Inner Ear Records release Athanasia on limited edition vinyl earlier this year. Building upon a growing profile. Polioudis has played at some of Greece’s bigger festivals, including PS2020, Plissken Festival, Westside Festival and Saristra Festival among others. His latest album Generation Y was recorded over the summer, and while the album is primarily influenced by Stereolab,Sonic Youth, and Car Seat Headrest, album single “This Is A Good Life” seems to draw from post-punk — particularly from the likes of Suicide, as the song is centered around rapid-fire, four-on-the-floor drum machine, arpeggiated synths, an angular and propulsive bass line and an anthemic, shout along worthy hook; but the song is underpinned with a bitter irony, as it points out the fact that the “perfect life” is usually extremely phony, if not damn well impossible.